The vast majority (86%) of teachers are aware of pupils sharing messages, photos or videos of a sexual nature with one another, with sexual harassment and bullying appearing to be a daily fact of life for many children and young people.
Nearly four in ten (39%) teachers who responded to a survey of teachers conducted by the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union into pupil wellbeing are aware of students being sexually harassed by other pupils. 75% say they are aware of pupils being bullied in school and 70% are aware of pupils being bullied online or via mobile phone outside the school day.
In addition, there is clear concern about the behaviours of some students towards other pupils and school staff, with nearly four in ten (38%) saying they have been aware of pupils they teach sexually harassing other pupils in the last year. More than one in ten (11%) say they are aware of pupils capturing or sharing photos or videos up teachers’ skirts or down their tops in the last year.
Teachers also say they are struggling to access professional support for pupils experiencing mental health problems, amid an upswing in the number of children and young people experiencing depression, panic attacks and self-harming.
The majority of teachers say reductions in staffing levels at their school are making it more difficult to support children’s learning and wellbeing.
The survey, which attracted 1,359 responses also found that:
- 96% believe they come into contact with pupils who are experiencing mental health issues. Of these 92% say pupils are exhibiting anxiety or panic attacks, 80% depression and 67% self-harm;
- Nearly two thirds (64%) say they are not confident that they or their school would be able to get timely support from expert services such as CAMHS for pupils experiencing mental health problems;
- Over half (51%) say staff numbers at their school have decreased in the last two years, with nearly two thirds (65%) saying they are not able to give pupils as much individual attention in lessons due to the loss of support staff and a similar number (64%) saying pupils are not always taught by a teacher trained for the subject or age range due to the loss of teaching staff.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Teachers have never before had to deal with such a complex range of pupil welfare issues as they do today.
“The pressure on teachers and headteachers is enormous and is putting at risk their own mental and physical health and wellbeing.
“These challenges are compounded by cuts to school staffing and to external specialist support.
“The Government must bear responsibility for the position in which schools find themselves. It is a betrayal of staff and pupils to continue to expect schools alone to deal with all of these issues.”